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Three Questions About Sunderland With Roker Report

It seems like just yesterday I sat down with Roker Report to do my first three questions ever. They join us again to preview this match.

Ross Kinnaird

CC: When we last talked right before the first fixture, both of us seemed very optimistic. Fulham aren't much off were I thought they'd be (though in 16th place only four points off 10th), though the route they've taken to get there has been hard on the supporters' psyches. Sunderland are probably very much not where you'd expect them to be. What's gone wrong so far?

Roker Report: What went wrong... well, where to start really! The summer transfer window was abysmal and it wasn't made much better by the outrageous attempt at management by Paolo Di Canio.

He managed to not only lose games, but lose the dressing room and the fans very, very quickly with his outbursts and failure to even come close to arresting the slide. And that's how we are where we are. There was no leader of the team, only lots of shouting and buck-passing.

The training, the selections, the signings, the tactics... all completely wrong from the off.

CC: I'm going to assume you were able to list a lot that's gone wrong. Is there anything that has gone right? How confident are you of avoiding relegation?

RR: What went right -- very, very right -- was getting rid of him and appointing Gus Poyet before someone else came in and did so. He's been an absolute revelation. He has us playing in a confident and different way. The likes I've never seen and I've been following Sunderland for over 25 years.

He's managed to get the best of most players. As much as I dislike the person, Phil Bardsley has proven to be very good, as has John O'Shea and Wes Brown. The jewel in the crown however has been Ki Sung-Yeung who is impeccable at using the ball and can dictate the pace of any game.

If anything he's far too good for us, but I'm glad he's here!

CC: The League Cup win over Manchester United sure seemed sweet. How much confidence does that give you and the club? Is it something that can be built on, or was it more of a flukish result?

RR: I don't think it was a fluke at all. Manchester United weren't very good and on the day were that slight bit better.

The cup has been a very welcome distraction this season, although we're yet to back that good form up in the league. Perhaps this is the time we can turn things around and actually kick on in the league. To be honest, if we don't then we're doomed.

Overall though I think we can get something from Craven Cottage. It's not been too bad a place for us to visit if memory serves. If we lose we could be out of it, a draw and there's a chance, and a win and I think we'll go on a run and stay up.

Projected lineup, and score prediction

RR: I think we'll lineup like this; Mannone; Bardsley, Brown, O'Shea, Alonso; Cattermole, Ki, Larsson; Johnson, Borini, Fletcher... leading to a 1-0 Sunderland victory.